SMOOTH, as most riders wish to be, is nothing more than an idea based on what they have seen other riders look like. It is possibly the most misunderstood of all the buzz words in riding with the possible exception of CONFIDENCE.
It’s amusing to watch someone trying to work out the idea of riding smoothly. It’s even more amusing to hear the “good advice” often and freely dispensed which is supposed to bring someone to an understanding of how to make their own riding match the fairly difficult to define dynamics of being SMOOTH.
SMOOTH is difficult to define because of the complexities riding provides. As an example, take all the important things a rider must maintain some connection with while riding. Here is the list:
The 18 Senses we rely upon to ride:
1. Sense of Present Location. Where am I?
2. Sense of Destination or Future Location. Where will I or want to be?
3. Sense of Trajectory. What is my arc of approach to the intended destination?
4. Sense of Prediction. The ability to coordinate 1, 2 and 3 and the result.
5. Sense of Motion. Can I track my motion relative to another’s and other’s movements relative to others through space? (e.g., setting up to pass)
6. Sense of Prediction of Motion. Can I figure out where I’ll be relative to objects or others and where others will be relative to others in space? (e.g., how early can I predict my line, apex and exit positions)
7. Sense of Relative Speed. Faster, slower or the same speed as another time in this same location?
8. Sense of Timing. How ready and willing I am to engage (or release) the next action? Am I executing control inputs exactly where and when I need to and with the correct intensity?
9. Sense of Traction. How is my ability to read what stage of traction, from grip to slip, the tires are in?
10. Sense of Lean Angle. How far over am I: the same, more, or less than other times?
11. Sense of Rate of Deceleration. How well can I predict my rate of deceleration?
12. Sense of Acceleration. How is my ability to compare intensities of acceleration?
13. Sense of Body Location. Where am I on the bike; fore, aft and side to side?
14. Sense of Joint Position. What is the angle and position of my arms, legs, neck, head and back?
15. Sense of Personal Physical Tension. Am I noticing, or not noticing, when I am tense like not breathing or muscle tightness?
16. Sense of the Bike’s Overall Feel and Stability. Am I noticing, or not noticing, roll, pitch and yaw movement?
17. Sense of Prediction of the Bike’s Roll, Pitch and Yaw Characteristics. Can I confidently observe if they will remain the same, get better or worse?
18. Sense of Correction or No Correction of Control Inputs. Should I do something or do nothing with the controls in response to the bikes roll, pitch and yaw (including sliding) movements?
Numbers 1 through 7 are external perceptions; 9 through 18 are internal. Number 8, your Sense of Timing, is the pivotal one and is vital to the coordination of them all.
NOTE: There is a huge difference between being tense with anticipation and good timing. Being tense means that the rider is waiting for something to tell him when to respond; he is relying on his reaction time to make it work out. Good timing and smooth, is a result of all 18 Senses being coordinated and does not rely solely on one’s physical reaction time.
If you wanted to locate yourself in the grand scheme of things and rate yourself from 1 to 10 on the above, just ask yourself this question on each of the 18 points: What degree of confidence do I have in my Sense of __________?
We use 22 different techniques for our inputs through a motorcycle’s 6 controls: Front brake, throttle, handlebars, clutch, gearchange lever and rear brake. And, based on our 18 perceptions we translate them into decisions, and those decisions into control over the machine. Techniques such as how the throttle is rolled on; how it is rolled off; how we first initiate the throttle-on action: those and 19 more are critical to smooth. Then again, as things heat up, that process can involve the coordination of all 18 of our senses and the coordination of several control inputs in as short a time as two short seconds. Did I mention that we are multi-tasking…
Observation and Correction
There’s a bit of a trick to this. Smooth to the eye looks like an uninterrupted flow of action but it isn’t. There are moments when action is required and moments when no action is required to maintain continuity and be smooth.
I only bring this up because riders often appear as though they are trying to prevent something from occurring rather than initiating action to smooth it out. A failure to act when needed is hesitation based on indecision. A rider’s stiff, frozen and unnatural body language telegraphs the indecision. The bikes failure to respond well, within its own design limitations, such as running wide or becoming unstable are two of the potential negative results.
Here is the point. Our coaches are trained to observe these points. Once located, the underlying reason for them happening is then discovered and the rider is corrected. With body position alone we have isolated no less than 57 elements that, when correct, aid the rider to achieve smooth riding. The most amazing point of these discoveries is that any single one of our perceptions, or any single element of body position, or any single element of our control inputs which goes astray can blow the whole deal.
What combination of corrections will solve it for you? Let us help_sign up now for the next available school. Go here: http://www.superbikeschool.com/schedule/ or call, 800 530-3350. We can and will sort you out!
© Keith Code, 2010. All rights reserved. Except for brief passages quoted for editorial review, this work is not to be reproduced in any form without the author’s express written permission.